COVID-19 - announcement_web


COVID-19 - announcement_web



MARCH 13, 2020

At AARCS we are doing our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 while still being able to assist animals in desperate need. We ask the public to avoid visiting our facility for non-essential purposes.  If you need to visit the shelter (surrender, veterinary appointments, etc), please ensure you make an appointment as some staff may not be readily available. That said, we are still counting on your support to maintain intake and care of animals in need. As a quarantine facility, AARCS Safe Haven already practices exceptional cleanliness and disinfection protocols. We have increased cleaning in common areas and are following recommended personal hygiene practices and social distancing when possible.

Many of our office staff will be working from home or reassigned to animal care duties in the event of volunteer shortages. Our veterinary clinic, which is not open to the public, remains operational for the over 500 animals in our care at this time. All registered volunteers and foster homes will have received an email with additional details in relation to our response.

We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our plans as things develop.

Our hearts go out to all who have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

aarcs_public notice


MARCH 18, 2020


HOW YOU CAN HELP support our organization and the animals in our care without coming to the facility.

You can send much-needed supplies directly to our shelter through our Amazon Wishlist at Items such as puppy food, kitten food, antibacterial soap, HE laundry detergent, laundry sheets (bounce), cleaning supplies and yes, even toilet paper.  We are encouraging the public to refrain from coming to drop off supplies at our Safe Haven shelter until it is deemed safe to do so.

Consider making a small donation or sign up as a monthly donor to help homeless animals in our care

We rely on the generosity of the public to provide for homeless, abandoned, injured and abused animals each day. Your $10/month can go a long way in changing the lives of vulnerable animals.

Got bottles and cans? Another great way to support our cause! Best part, you can schedule a pick from Skip the Depot and designate those funds directly to AARCS by signing up today at In return for your kindness, you will receive a valuable tax receipt.

Fetch an item from our online store! You don’t have to go out to show that you care about animals. Get your dog or cat a spiffy new bow-tie or neck-tie for when they show up in your online meeting! You can buy an item or a gift card for a friend at!

Stuck at home? We have plenty of adult animals at our shelter who wouldn’t mind being stuck at home with YOU! Please note that we are seeking individuals or families that are able to commit to fostering for a minimum of 1-3 months. At this time, adult dogs and cats are in desperate need of foster parents to step forward. The majority of our rescued dogs are medium to large mixed breeds. We cannot guarantee their breed or that they are hypoallergenic. Help an animal in need by opening your heart and home at

We truly cannot do the work we do without your support. Thank you for always being there during times of need.


Featured Volunteer: Lori Unraw

How can I become a volunteer? | See more volunteers

Photos courtesy of Inga Morozoff Photography


AARCS Featured Volunteer:

Lori Unraw

A word from Lori:

I really can’t remember many times in my life when I didn’t share my life with a cat. My parents were animal lovers and we shared our house with many critters including cats, turtles, tortoises, gerbils, hamsters, mice and fish. We were taught respect for all living creatures right from the start. I loved them all but had a particular fondness for cats which continues to this day.
I have had a typical life: happy times and sad times, times of both hardship and joy, but there was always something missing from my life and I was never quite sure what it was. I decided to try volunteering and checked out several different rescues. Then I came across AARCS with their mission statement of “changing lives through kindness.” If there’s one thing this world is in dire need of it’s a little more kindness!

I knew from my first visit that this was the place for me. AARCS is an amazing organization that truly practices what they preach. Their love and respect goes beyond their animals to all the staff and volunteers that work for them. I am blessed to be part of this amazing group of people! To see these animals when they first enter the shelter and see the transformation that takes hold once they realize that they are safe and loved – nothing is more life-changing than that.

I find no greater joy than helping out here whether that be as a cat caregiver, training the next group of volunteers or helping out with adoptions. I came to rescue animals and yet they have truly rescued me! I will be forever grateful to AARCS for the kindness they show their animals and me. To be able to give back, in some small way, is the least I can do!

Lori Unraw
AARCS Volunteer

A word from our Cat Shelter Coordinator:

She is an absolutely amazing individual. She is the most patient & caring person I’ve ever volunteered with. She takes it on herself to make sure our new volunteers are comfortable with what they are doing. And when someone is struggling, she does everything she can to help. I have only ever seen and heard positive things about Lori.
She has been an unbelievable asset to the Cat Caregiving team and beyond that as a Shift Leader. When I needed someone that could help with the disinfecting workshops during the days, Lori was only too happy to help me out. Even though she is far from comfortable on a computer.
She is so good with the volunteers and just as amazing with the cats. I couldn’t imagine a more deserving individual to be recognized as Volunteer of the Month!
Vicki Birch
Cat Shelter Coordinator


ringworm pups

Thank You – PetSmart Charities


AARCS was awarded the 2018 Shelter Operations Grant

At AARCS, we are grateful to Petsmart Charities of Canada for investing in organizations who are going the extra mile to save animals whom in the past may have faced euthanasia for treatable, but contagious illnesses. In 2018 AARCS received a Shelter Operations grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada and because of it, and other donations like it, AARCS has been able to invest in protective equipment that supports our high standard, life-saving quarantine protocols. In order to do this work and save more animals, specialized equipment was imperative, including seven SanX machines, which assists in eliminating the spread of airborne illnesses; this has significantly reduced the time to recover from illnesses such as upper respiratory viruses as well as ringworm. We were able to invest in washable isolation gowns allowing us to be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly.   Our isolation rooms properly equipped to be self-contained with cabinetry and are stocked with gloves, gowns, boots and spray bottles for thorough disinfection. These funds have provided a safe, contaminant-free environment for animals in need where they can recover and are eventually able to find their own forever homes. It is our pleasure to introduce you to some of our patients who have been assisted through Petsmart Charities-funded initiatives!



Ringworm Puppies

These young puppies were diagnosed with positive ringworm tests. They all received treatment and TLC, and were able to recover without infecting other shelter animals, staff or volunteers. They have all since been adopted.

Oscar – Ringworm

This is Oscar the kitten who came into our care at only four weeks old. He was found by one of our amazing volunteers while she was on vacation in BC. At first glance, we knew that Oscar wasn’t well. He was full of scabs and open wounds which we determined was ringworm.He was quarantined, bathed daily with medicated shampoo and given oral medications for six weeks and made a full recovery.

Parvo Puppies

A litter of eight 8-week-old puppies who were emaciated, dehydrated and only scored a body condition of 1/9 arrived in AARCS care in January 2019.  After their examination by the veterinary team, Sailor was deemed the worst of all. No matter what was offered, he refused to eat or drink anything, which resulted in the administration of fluids to keep him hydrated and a parvo test. Regrettably, the test was positive and the entire litter was hospitalized in our isolation room. They all survived and went onto happy adoptive homes.

Zazu – Sarcoptic Mange

We were itching for precious Zazu to get better. This poor fella was suffering from sarcoptic mange, as well as a skin infection. His transformation was incredible, but did take some extra time. Had he been left out in the cold this winter would have been extremely hard on him and he might not have survived.

Panleuk Survivors!

Ammit and Shisa were two of our panleuk positive kittens.  They were isolated and hospitalized on IV fluids for vomiting and severe diarrhea. They have since made a full recovery and are now up for adoption!








Justice for Milk River Dogs – 2019

BREAKING NEWS! 01/18/2019

APRIL IRVING has been ARRESTED in Manitoba! It has been CONFIRMED that April Irving is in custody!

April IrvingApril Irving is the woman accused of causing immense pain and suffering to 201 dogs who were taken from her property in Milk River and AARCS cared for the majority of these animals back in 2014. This was one of the worst cases of neglect we have ever seen. The animals, a mixture of Huskies, Irish Wolf Hounds, Malamutes and Komodors were in horrendous condition upon arrival. They came to us extremely emaciated, with badly matted fur, dehydrated and very hungry. Some had broken bones, open and infected wounds and most were riddled with parasites.

April Dawn Irving was facing animal cruelty charges federally and provincially in Alberta when she failed to attend her court appearance and disappeared, leaving no justice for these animals over the past four years. We never gave up hope that she would one day stand trial. Our hope now is that her day has come and these defenseless animals will finally have the justice they deserve.

All of the Milk River Dogs have been adopted into loving homes!
#AARCS #MilkRiverDogs #JusticeForAnimals





Browyn (left) and Briar (right) were in the care of April IRVING prior to her arrest last week. Since the arrest, both puppies have been surrendered into AARCS’ care. Thankfully, they were still in good condition and did not suffer the same fate as hundreds of other dogs at the hands of IRVING. This pair of puppies, a male and a female, were both intact and are 5/6 months of age. We do not know what her intentions were with these puppies, but we are eternally grateful that we received the call and were able to transport them immediately to AARCS’ Safe Haven in Calgary. Since their arrival, we have given them a thorough veterinary exam, vaccinations, deworming and completed their spay/neuter surgeries to prevent any litters in their future. Once their quarantine period is over, these two will be placed into loving adoptive homes and they will never have to endure the pain and suffering as hundreds of others did before them.

We can all agree that animal protection laws in Canada need to change! Deanna Thompson, AARCS Executive Director says, “One hundred percent we support a lifetime ban… I never want another animal to suffer at the hands of April Irving.”



2018-11-29 AARCS VOTM - Kaila-02513 (2)

Featured Volunteer: Kaila Gillespie

How can I become a volunteer? | See more volunteers

Photos courtesy of Gone Muttz Phodography


AARCS Featured Volunteer:

Kaila Gillespie

A word from Kaila:

I have always been very passionate when it comes to animals. It started early for me, when I was about 4 years old, my mom decided to foster our very first cat with the “Street Cats Program”. We instantly fell in love and ended up adopting him for good! I have since passed this onto my daughter Ryllie, who is also very passionate about animals the way I am.

I started fostering for AARCS in July 2016. Our very first foster came in from the Fort McMurray wildfires. Since then we have helped 34 kittens/cats find their forever home! With the exception of one… Our handsome Sammy. I was so excited to go home and tell Ryllie and Sammy that he has been home all along!

I have always loved giving back and I wanted to do more and help many more animals that so very much need our support! AARCS posted that they were hiring a Third-Party Fundraising Coordinator and of course I was very eager get on board! In October of 2016 I became part of AARCS Events Team as a Third-Party Fundraising Coordinator. My first task was the 2016 Christmas Wreath Fundraiser and have been doing this fundraiser every year since as well as helping others raise funds for AARCS.

Ryllie is my five year old sidekick when it comes to attending events. Her favorite thing to do is setting up the booth and visiting all the puppies that help us fundraise! If you ever see us at an event, come and say hi!

My absolute favorite thing about AARCS is all the people I have met and seeing the abundance of smiles when adopters come to meet their new family member! It is so amazing to be part of such a wonderful organization and I couldn’t imagine my life without AARCS.

Thank you
Kaila Gillespie
AARCS Volunteer

A word from our Volunteer Manager:

Our Volunteer of the Month for December is the wonderful Kaila! In the over two years Kaila has been with AARCS, we have witnessed her incredible passion for saving lived and been lucky enough to have her on our team! Our events and fundraising team is where we have see Kaila shine! She currently coordinates AARCS Third Party Fundraising initiatives, and our Annual Christmas Wreath Campaign! These events require a large amount of time, organization and enthusiasm! In addition to working tirelessly to support the costs associated with caring for so many animals, Kaila and her daughter have also fostered a number of cats over the years. They have both spent countless hours cuddling kittens, bringing them out of their shell and finding them a forever home!Kaila, thank you so much for working so hard to provide a better life so so many animals that have come through AARCS doors! We couldn’t be doing it without you and I truly hope you will be part of the AARCS family for many, many years to come!!

Rachel Howard
Volunteer Manager


Vicki_Birch (3)

Featured Volunteer: Vicki Birch

How can I become a volunteer? | See more volunteers

Photos courtesy of Debby Herold Photography


AARCS Featured Volunteer:

Vicki Birch

A word from Vicki:

I have grown up with and loved animals my entire life. We always had a dog in the house and at one point we had budgies, a hamster and so many fish. I always wanted a cat but my dad wasn’t a fan (funny thing is now his best buddy is a cat), so when I moved out of the house the first thing I did was went out and adopted a cat.

I wanted to be a vet for as long as I can remember, unfortunately, my grades did not cooperate with this dream. But I always knew I was meant to do something with animals. Fast forward a few years, and in early 2014 we heard about the Milk River dogs. My boss sent an email to all of the staff saying that anyone that wanted to donate to AARCS to help these poor animals, that she would match their donations. She knew at the time that I couldn’t afford to help financially and suggested I look into volunteering, so I did! I filled out the volunteer application that day and heard back in a couple of days. I had my Dog Orientation at the end of February followed close behind by my Cat Orientation at the beginning of March, and that was it. I was hooked! My mom jokes it’s my own little cult, but I’m ok with that. If this is what a cult is then I guess I’m a very active member.

I have now been with AARCS for almost 4 years in all sorts of capacities including but I’m sure not limited to; Dog Caregiver/Shift Leader, Cat Caregiver/Shift Leader, Events, Education, Training, Transport/SNAP, Pet Store laundry etc. Last year I took on the roll of Cat Shelter Coordinator and am loving the interaction that I have with staff and volunteers in this position. Although technically I’m not supposed to have any more pets in my apartment I also started fostering cats last year. I seem to have a soft spot for the cats I affectionately call the defective kitties. Not that they are in anyway defective, but I seem to take the guys with heart conditions, maybe I can relate having grown up with a heart murmur or maybe it’s just because these guys need the extra love that I have to give them. This has of course proven extremely emotional but so worth every second I get to spend with them.

I have a lot of people tell me they don’t know how I do it, how I can go in and see all the animals in the different states that they come to us. But I just tell them and myself that although it’s very emotional I know that we’re here to get them from the terrible situations they were in to the new loving homes they deserved from day 1. It doesn’t mean you don’t go home some days thinking how I can keep doing this, but you just remind yourself of what they came from and where they’re going to. To help them overcome their fears and injuries and go to a loving furever home IS WHY I CONTINUE DOING THIS!!

I like to think that I do this to save the animals because AARCS saved me in a very down time in my life.

So although AARCS says thank you to me for everything I do for the organization, I want to thank AARCS for coming to my rescue when I needed it the most.

Thank you
Vicki Birch
AARCS Volunteer

A word from our Volunteer Manager:

We are thrilled to announce our volunteer of the month for November. Meet Vicki Birch.

This coming January, Vicki will be celebrating four years with AARCS. In those four years we have come to know Vicki and she has become a large part of our team, especially part of our ever growing Cat Team! At some point or another, Vicki has been involved with everything from animal care (both cats and dogs), to events and fundraising, to administrative activities and was instrumental in helping us get our new space set up in 2017. She showed up weekend in and weekend out to help out with whatever we were doing. She painted, she helped move furniture and she did it all while sharing that infectious laugh!

Over the years, I’ve watched Vicki and can honestly say she is one of the most hardworking and dedicated people I know. I can’t imagine AARCS without her and we are incredibly fortunate to have her as part of the AARCS family every day! There really are no words to describe what Vicki means to us, and how much we adore her.

Vicki, we truly can not thank you enough for all you do! Thank you for being you, and for saving so many animals over the years!

Rachel Howard
Volunteer Manager


Dax Bottles

Skip the Depot Bottle Drive


Bottle Drive_May2018

Skip the Depot – Recycle for Rescue!

Bottle donations are very much appreciated at AARCS. Your empties are full of opportunity for the animals in our care!

 You are more than welcome to drop off your bagged cans and bottles at AARCS Safe Haven or you can sign up at Skip The Depot to have them picked up directly from your residence on a set schedule!

Skip the Depot

Choose the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society as your benefactor and you’ll receive a valuable tax receipt!

Donate Your Empties at AARCS!

Please BAG YOUR BOTTLES and drop them off into our BLUE BOTTLE BINS out front of our animal shelter. Funds raised from donated bottles will go towards our animals in AARCS’ care.



Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society
5060 – 74 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2C 3C9



Kayla Devitt (1)

Featured Volunteer: Kayla Devitt

How can I become a volunteer? | See more volunteers

Photos courtesy of Herring Bone Photography


AARCS Featured Volunteer:

Kayla Devitt

A word from Kayla:

My road to AARCS is less glamourous then others. In 2016 I was out of work and beginning to feel the toll of countless jobs rejecting me, when I came across the idea of volunteering to help fill the void in my life. Working with rescue animals seemed like an easy fit as there was always a rescue dog in my family growing up. It didn’t take long on the AARCS website for me to realize these were like-minded people. I promptly filled out my application.

I signed up to do my first event, I was a little nervous but after I received the warmest welcome from the other volunteers my jitters completely disappeared. I found myself immersed with talking to people about animals and the great work AARCS does.

When I got home that night I couldn’t stop talking about the animals and the people I had met that day. The rush I got from raising awareness and funds for the wonderful work we do at AARCS was incomparable, I was hooked. Since then I’ve done as many events as I can. The positive atmosphere created by everyone at AARCS is easily the best part of my week.


AARCS doesn’t just rescue animals, they rescue people too.

Thank you
Kayla Devitt
AARCS Volunteer

A word from our Volunteer Manager:

We are pleased to introduce our Volunteer of the Month for October – Kayla Devitt! We first met Kayla in 2016, and it was no surprise that she was nominated by a fellow volunteer for Volunteer of the Month!

Over the years, Kayla has participated in so many AARCS events and has become a face that many recognize when visiting the AARCS booth! Kayla will gladly take on any task, and has frequently jumped in to help out when needed. On more than one occasion, she has shown up early for her shift, (or stayed well past her scheduled time!) simply to help out and continue raising awareness for AARCS and the homeless animals we help.

Kayla is a joy to have on our team, and we are so grateful for her go-getter attitude and infectious smile! Thank you Kayla for always being there to help, and for your incredible dedication to helping the animals!

Rachel Howard
Volunteer Manager


Thank you - Aug2018

With Gratitude – August 2018


With Gratitude,

we would like to acknowledge our August 2018 Corporate Supporters!


  • New Dimension Tattoos – AARCS Hero Monthly Donor
  • NOtaBLE – The Restaurant – AARCS Hero Monthly Donor
  • Stonegate Pub – Bottle Donation
  • Bonavista Energy Corporation – Calgary Corporate Challenge
  • Brookfield Residential Properties Inc. – Calgary Corporate Challenge
  • Chevron Canada – Calgary Corporate Challenge
  • Murphy Oil – Calgary Corporate Challenge
  • TransCanada PipeLines Limited – Calgary Corporate Challenge
  • ATB Financial – Employees & Matching
  • Bell Canada – Employees & Matching
  • Best Buy Canada Ltd. – Employees & Matching
  • Canadian Pacific – Employees & Matching
  • ConocoPhillips Corporation – Employees & Matching
  • Encana Corporation – Employees & Matching
  • Getty Images, Inc. – Employees & Matching
  • Juniper Networks Foundation Fund – Employees & Matching
  • Nexen Energy ULC – Employees & Matching
  • Pembina Pipeline Corporation – Employees & Matching


  • Shaw Communications, Inc. - Employees & Matching
  • Suncor Energy - Employees & Matching
  • TELUS Communications Inc. – Employees & Matching
  • TransCanada PipeLines Limited – Employees & Matching
  • Banque National – Employee Matching
  • ATCO Gas – EPIC Campaign
  • Absolute Hearing Services – Jail & Bail
  • MARKET Restaurant – Jail & Bail
  • Car Max Canada Superstore – Safe Haven Sponsor
  • National Automotive Glass Products Ltd. – Safe Haven Sponsor
  • First Calgary Financial – Thanks for your support
  • Great West Life – Thanks for your support
  • Royal Canadian Legion #284 – Thanks for your support
  • The Wandering Long Table – Thanks for your support
  • Window Works Inc. – Thanks for your support
  • Breakwater Glass – Third Party Fundraising
  • Ctrl V Calgary – Third Party Fundraising
  • Shell Canada (Fuelling Kindness) – Third Party Fundraising
  • Shell Canada – Work Bee – Intern Dog House Build
  • Intact Insurance – Work Bee – Safe Haven
  • Meerkat Roofing & Exteriors – Work Bee – Dog House build – did all the roofing on a number of DH’s
  • Detailed Drywall – Hosted Dog House Build and Stores our supplies


Ways You Can Get Involved:

Fundraise for AARCS
Safe Haven Sponsorship
Join the Calgary Corporate Challenge
Sponsor an Event




5060 74 Ave SE
Calgary, AB T2C 3C9


PH: 403-250-7377



Featured Volunteer: Debby Herold

How can I become a volunteer? | See more volunteers

Photos courtesy of The Dog with a Bow Photography


AARCS Featured Volunteer:

Debby Herold

A word from Debby:

“I’ve loved all animals my entire life. Rescuing them came early to me when, as a little girl, I’d come home with stray cats and ask my mom, “Can we keep him?” I guess I was convincing because I’ve had cats as pets ever since I was around 10 or 11. We also cared for school animals (guinea pigs, a rabbit, and mice) on weekends and had some pet gerbils. As a child, I wanted to become a veterinarian. That didn’t happen but my love for animals remained. I also developed a lifetime love of photography when my Grade 5 teacher gave our class cheap black and white film cameras and taught us how to develop our photos in a darkroom.

I came upon AARCS a couple of years ago when we were thinking of adopting a second dog. It didn’t pan out, but it planted a seed … I needed to find a meaningful way to help, so in 2017 I emailed Rachel and asked if I could volunteer as a photographer. I was thrilled when she answered yes. Since joining the photography team, we’ve adopted two AARCS cats — Otto and Oliver (formerly Boron and Jumanji). My oldest son and his family have also adopted two AARCS kitties — Aztec and Hugo (formerly Banjo).


My work with the photography team has been life-changing and has given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people through AARCS, some of whom I’m fortunate to now call friends. I’m proud to be helping make a difference and changing lives through kindness. I find myself invested in every animal I photograph and my heart is so full being part of a family of volunteers who truly care about them.

I’m humbled and honoured to have been chosen Volunteer of the Month.

Thank you
Debby Herold
AARCS Volunteer Photographer

A word from our Volunteer Manager:

Over the past year, we have had the pleasure of getting to know Debby! She has a heart of gold and we have been extremely fortunate that she has shared her love of photography with us.If you peruse through the AARCS website, you will see many photos which Debby has taken for us to showcase some of our amazing adoptable animals. The love and care she shows each one of the animals she photographs is something we admire greatly about Debby. She is always the first to help out in a pinch! One of our fellow volunteers had this to say about her: “She is reliable, dependable, super friendly, accommodating, and of course, mega talented.”

Thank you Debby for the huge part you play in finding so many of these animals forever homes. We truly are grateful for all of your commitment to the animals!

Rachel Howard
Volunteer Manager